Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tree seedlings - planting in buckets - money saving tip

Last fall I ordered seedling trees from the state of Missouri Forestry department.  It is a great program to sell trees and other plants that can help return areas that were once forest back into forested areas or to help farmers understand agroforestry and how a blended/hybrid strategy of forest with crops and pastures and increase productivity, yields, and diversify sources of income over the long haul.

So I ordered some trees from them with the intention that I would be going out to our land, our future home site where we plan to build a permaculture Back to Eden mini farm and settle down there for retirement.  So trees and orchards are very much on the front line of that plan.  Trees take time so now is the time to plant trees so that in a few years they will start to become productive and capable of assisting us in our Back to Eden homestead. 

Well life happens, plans get interrupted.   But now I have a bunch of seedling trees that are about to be shipped to me that I will not be able to take a road trip out from CO to MO.  So I have to find a temporary home for these trees when they get here.  Trees need room to grow.  These are all one year old seedlings so they are going to be approximately 12" tall.   The upside and downside is that these trees are sold in groups of 10.  The downside that is the minimum order so that means if you want to get several tree types your going to get a lot of trees.  In our case we wanted a lot of trees for our MO property.  The downside again is that we cannot get back to MO so now I have to find a way to keep these trees alive until I can make it out to MO to plant them.  Now I started looking for pots to plant these trees in and I am finding that to buy them in bulk like this is going to be pretty expensive.   Even the cheapest 5 gallon nursery pot is running between $3-6 each.  I have approximately 50 trees I will have to find a home. 

Worse yet a 5 gallon nursery pot isn't really 5 gallons.  I is about 4 gallons and the space in those may not be enough for these trees to grow in this summer.  The plan is to try and scrape together the funds to make a trip this fall.  So there needs to be enough room in these pots that the trees will grow and be happy until we can get them into the ground.  So what to do?  I am finding lots of references online stating for a small tree I really need to be looking at a 7 gallon nursery pot.  Or better yet a smart pot which is just a fabric bag type pot to keep the root ball together, but provide air.  Again the cost is pretty high.  I looked at the dimensions of a 5 gallon nursery pot vs a 7 gallon nursery pot and still there really isn't a great deal of room and the cost is just crazy.  So I looked at some 5 gallon buckets I have around the house here.  The dimensions are more generous than those of the 5 gallon or the 7 gallon pots.  The cost to buy some new buckets at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart etc is about $3 a piece.  That is for new buckets.  Now I don't need new buckets.  All I would be doing is drilling holes in the bottom of these buckets and using them for planting pots.  So I started looking locally for used buckets on Craigslist.  I found someone selling some that have been cleaned and ready for reuse for $2 each.  So I will be meeting him today to get what he has available and will keep my eyes open for more deals like this until I can get enough buckets to give my trees a new home.  I think these 5 gallon buckets will work to keep the trees happy through the growing season this year and provide a place for as long as I need it to keep them alive until I can get them out to our land.

Even then the challenge will be when we are ready to take them out to MO I don't think I am going to have room for 50 buckets in the back of my truck so I will have to cross that bridge when I get there.  I had hoped to get a little Harbor Freight trailer for hauling things and use the space in the trailer and the truck.  However until my funds situation changes that won't be possible.  Renting a Uhaul trailer wouldn't really work either since the cost for a one way rental is about 2/3rd the cost of buying a HF trailer.  So it makes little sense to spend that kind of money.  Also if you do a round trip with the Uhaul trailer the cost in fuel is a big factor also again running up the cost.  A small light weight HF trailer wouldn't be nearly as bad a drag on fuel economy or wear and tear.  A last option might be to see if I can find a friend or someone who would rent me a small trailer like that for the trip or loan me one.  I will have to explore that option more.

Now a few of these trees I will be able to put to use here on my urban homestead.  But not very many due to the space I have here.  I will be planting a few of the Paw Paw's, a few of the Mulberry, and a few of the Serviceberry(June berry) that are coming in this bunch from the MO Forestry department.  I may be able to plant one of the dogwood trees also.  But the rest will have to go out to MO or maybe even list them locally and sell them.  That might be a possibility also.  Some like the Pecan trees are not suited to the Zone 5 climate we live in here so I will probably have to protect those trees to keep them alive into the fall/winter months if I cannot get them out to MO.  

So your probably wondering what trees I bought?  Well here is what I ordered:

Trees Ordered:
Black Locust
Paw Paw

Now the way this program works is that they start the tree ordering on November 1st for spring shipping.  It is first come first serve and you have to order your trees fast if you want to get the trees you desire.   They will take orders through 15 April.  The cost for the trees is like $8 for 10 trees.  Even after shipping it is still very affordable.  The tree catalog has many varieties.  I was very happy to find this program.  If your looking for trees to plant on your property many states have these programs.  We are planting in MO so I was looking for trees grown in and adjusted to that climate.  So that is why I ordered from them.  here is the link on how to order trees if your interested. 

Missouri Department of Conservation:
 Seedling Order - How-To

Things are very busy this time of year for those of us who garden.  It is a time of starting seeds, planning garden spaces, building garden beds, ordering plants and trees.  So lots of hustle and bustle going on already.  It is a fun and exciting time of year.  You can feel the anticipation in the air.  It makes you want to HUSTLE and try to get everything you can done.    If you haven't started getting things going for your garden now is the time.  It isn't too late! :-) 

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